Exclusive FareBy: Alana Folen Photos By: Leah Friel
Not your grandfather’s club sandwich. Part one of a two-part series (read Part Two here)
FROM THE EXTENSIVE OFFERINGS of premier country clubs to the first-class amenities of city clubs, there are many advantages of holding membership to a private club.
Knowing that the “members only” slogan is meant especially for you certainly has its privileges.
Waialae Country Club and The Plaza Club are two of Hawai‘i’s most sought-after, private membership clubs, where patrons can escape to a world all their own. Waialae Country Club, located beachside at the eastern end of Kahala Avenue, offers a world-class haven on its 18-hole, PGA-worthy championship golf course. Tennis courts and a sprawling clubhouse are just a few additional perks.
Venture downtown into Honolulu and you’ll find The Plaza Club situated on two picturesque floors within Pioneer Plaza. This club is the destination of choice for business meetings, special events and pau hana gatherings for its community of more than 800 members who use this space to share ideas, build connections and often close important deals.
While both clubs set the standard for excellence on so many levels, any food enthusiast would be happy to know that Waialae Country Club and The Plaza Club embody a passion for superlative cuisine.
“We currently have 1,200 members at Waialae Country Club,” says general manager Allan Lum. “We have members from Hawai‘i who run the gamut of ethnicities not to mention quite a few members from the mainland as well. So in order to try and satisfy all palates, we have quite a diverse menu.”
“The dining experience is what we’re absolutely known for,” adds Plaza Club general manager Dan Bower. “We have such a captive audience, so we always have to come up with invigorating dining concepts to keep our members from getting bored.”
Be it classic club fare or signature local favorites, both clubs will cater to your every want—which, of course, is the nature of a private club.
Mariano Lalica is executive chef at Waialae. Classically trained in San Francisco, focuses on using the freshest ingredients and local fishermen’s catch. His self-described masterpieces include Waialae Room lunch items like Chinese chicken salad, in which almonds, homemade char siu, chicken and pickled ginger lie atop a bed of shredded romaine tossed with a hoisin vinaigrette. His roasted beets and asparagus salad is a rising favorite; lemon soy chicken with cake noodle satisfies those looking to the Far East for flavors, as is with the ever-popular oxtail soup. Lum says it’s this last dish that sets Waialae Country club above the rest.
“We go through about 140 pounds of oxtail a week,” Lalica says. “We roast the oxtails and then simmer it for three to four hours in a secret broth. It’s garnished with mustard cabbage, ginger, cilantro and green onions. Of course, you can’t forget the side of soy mustard.”
And while local delights manage to take the forefront at Waialae Country Club, it’s the storied club fare of yore that shines brightly at The Plaza Club.
According to The Plaza Club’s executive chef, Randy Whiteford, seafood “Louie” salad—perhaps their most widely popular dish among regulars—boasts an impressive medley of smoked marlin, spicy tuna, lump crab, prawns, tomato, hard cooked egg, asparagus and avocado splashed with a spicy “Louie” dressing.
“We are an exceptional venue for lunch,” Bower says, motioning to both the Hokulani dining room and the Sunset Lounge. “Twenty percent of the menu changes every week, so we always have fresh specials,” he adds, noting a special Kona Kampachi the day we stopped by, that will grace dinner plates alongside grilled asparagus and white prawns with a lemon and curry sabayon. Wagyu Beef is another specialty at The Plaza Club, most recently paired with faro risotto and Belgian endive, finished with a bordelaise sauce.
“We have the capability to really take our food to the highest levels. Everything is exquisitely well-prepared with wonderful ingredients,” Bower says. “We also do a lot of luxury wine dinners.”
Waialae Country Club is located at 4997 Kahala Ave. For hours and more information, call 734-2151. The Plaza Club is located at Pioneer Plaza, 900 Fort Street Mall 20th and 21st floors. Call 521-8905.